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Seperating Colorectal Cancer Myths From Screening Realities

When it comes to colorectal cancer screening, there are certain myths that, though inaccurate, people accept as common knowledge. To help you take control of your health, we’ve debunked the most prominent myths surrounding colorectal cancer screening:

Myth 1 : Colorectal cancer is a "men's disease"

Approximately equal numbers of men and women develop colorectal cancer each year. For  2012, the American Cancer Society estimated that about 70,000 women and 73,000 men would be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S.1

Action: Speak to your health care provider and participate in a colorectal cancer screening program. Women are at risk for colorectal cancer and need to be screened and properly care for.

Myth 2: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented, so screening is pointless

Colorectal cancer is a preventable disease. Many, many years before colorectal cancer develops, small areas of swelling may develop on the colon lining. These are commonly known as “polyps”.

The vast majority of polyps never cause a problem. However, some grow larger over time and may develop into cancer. Screening tests can help identify whether you have polyps. Polyps can be easily removed before they cause any trouble.

Action: Speak to your health care provider and participate in a colorectal cancer screening     program. Prevent colorectal cancer before it has a chance to start.

Myth 3: Colorectal cancer is always associated with symptoms

Colorectal cancer is a very “quiet” cancer and most often doesn’t cause symptoms until late stage. Late stage cancer is treated with surgery and chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy.

These aggressive treatments can be avoided by finding colorectal cancer at an early stage through screening. Colorectal cancer has a very high cure rate with surgery alone when identified at early stages. 

Colorectal cancer identified by screening is commonly early stage. The earliest stage, Stage I, has a cure rate of approximately 95%.2

Action: Speak to your health care provider and participate in a colorectal cancer screening program. Screening can save your life by finding cancer at a curable stage.

Don’t let the myth that says if you have no symptoms you do not have to be screened cost you your life. Get screened when you feel well.

And, of course, always consult with your health care provider when you have symptoms that concern you.

Next Step: Get Screened 

The action to take is clear: speak to your health care provider and participate in a colorectal cancer screening  program. There are several ways to get screened and you and your health care provider can choose one that is right for you.

Take charge of your health. Screening can save your life – that is no myth.

References

1American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2012
2Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2009; 101:1412-1422; American Cancer Society

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